It’s becoming business as usual for Kenny Brooks and Co. to dominate as the Hokies recorded back-to-back 20+ point victories with a 73-42 result against Clemson on Tuesday night which had Brooks quite pleased.
“I'm really pleased with the effort,” Brooks said. “We started to share the basketball and that lid came off a little bit and we made some threes tonight.”
The offense ran through the duo of Aisha Sheppard and Azana Baines, who had a combined 43 points on 18-23 shooting, as they overtook the Tigers on all areas of the floor.
Sheppard, who is closing in on becoming the all-time scoring leader in Virginia Tech Women’s Basketball history, knocked down five three-pointers to help her post a game-high 23 points.
“It has been a struggle,” Sheppard said. “My coaching staff and teammates have been tremendous in helping me stay focused.”
For Baines, she was as efficient as you get on the offensive end with 10-11 shooting to record her career-high 20 points.
In the opening half, the Tigers did an excellent job of not allowing the Hokies to beat them down low. But Baines had the ability to slash through the defense and get the majority of her buckets in the paint.
“I was asking her to be more like Draymond Green,” Brooks jokingly said. “I don’t know if Green gets 20 points a game. But, she really understood what we needed from her.”
Unfortunately for Elizabeth Kitley, she couldn’t find as much success down low as her teammate; only taking two shot attempts all night and ending with two points. This performance from the junior marks a new season-low for points in a single game, but she tallied a game-high eight rebounds, with three of them coming on the offensive end.
When the contest got started, the Tigers stuck around with the Hokies for the majority of the first half, and part of the reason was because of how aggressive they were on the boards. At the end of the first quarter, Clemson had hauled in seven offensive rebounds and was leading the rebounding battle, 12-8.
After grabbing some breathing room to start the second quarter, the Hokies’ double figure lead didn’t last for long as they went without a field goal for over four minutes. Clemson sought to take advantage of the situation and did as they ended the opening 20 minutes on a n11-3 run.
There was some fear in the air that the Kenny Brooks’ side look a little tired at times down the stretch but after the break, the Hokies started the second half with a 9-2 run assisted by a pair of triples by Sheppard and Georgia Amoore
“I was calm [at halftime],” Brooks said. “We made a couple of adjustments… I've got a whole bunch of sets and we can run them, but if you want to take everything away like that we're too good.”
The Hokies didn’t look back as they outscored the Tigers by 27 points in the second half and held the visitors to 42 points overall, their best defensive performance in ACC play since allowing the same number of points to Virginia on Jan. 27.
It was also a historic night for Kayana Traylor who with a bucket in the third quarter, eclipsed 1000 career points for her collegiate career spanning her times at Purdue and Virginia Tech.
For the Hokies’ four-game homestand, they have reached the halfway mark of the week with a perfect start, but the competition will get much tougher over the next few days as No. 11 Georgia Tech and No. 24 North Carolina come into town.
After Tuesday's game, the Hokies now sit tied for third in the ACC standings with a 9-3 conference record, their best in program history, alongside the Yellow Jackets and No. 18 Notre Dame.
“It's five games in maybe a 10-day stretch so there's no practice time like tomorrow, we'll come in and they'll do ice baths and we'll do some yoga and watch some film,” Brooks said. “We’ll watch Georgia Tech and get ready for that game.”
It will be another quick turnaround for the Hokies as they are set to host Georgia Tech in less than 48 hours with tip-off set for Thursday, Feb. 10 at 8 p.m. Coverage of the game will be presented on your local regional sports network.